The 21-year-old Canadian’s season-long stint in MLS ended on Sunday with a 4-1 home win over the Portland Timbers.
Rangers youngster Fraser Aird has told Goal USA that he is not sure where he will be playing his football next following the end of his loan spell with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Aird, 21, originally joined the Whitecaps on a season-long loan in January after falling out of favour under Rangers manager Mark Warburton and went on to make 16 starts in 18 MLS appearances for the Canadian club, while also making the transition from midfield to right-back.
The converted winger was a regular in the line-up over the first few months of the campaign, showing plenty of attacking promise while steadily improving as a defender, but he ultimately lost his starting spot during the summer due to some subpar performances and struggled for game time from then on.
He did fare well in last weekend’s regular season finale against the Portland Timbers, helping set up Giles Barnes’ 13th-minute opener and recording five tackles as Carl Robinson’s men romped to a 4-1 win, but the team had already been eliminated from playoff contention by that stage after losing the second-most games in the league (15) to leave them eighth in the Western Conference.
“If the results went a little bit better and we were in the playoffs, I’d probably have enjoyed it a little bit more,” Aird told Goal USA on his time in Vancouver. “But it’s been a good. A good learning curve. I’ve got valuable minutes in my new position, which is good.
“That’s what I came here for, so hopefully I can take that experience and just build on it.”
With his spell at BC Place now over, Aird is set to head back to Scotland following a short break to recharge his batteries, but it remains to be seen what the future holds for him from there.
Whitecaps head coach Robinson has said that he would be keen to bring the three-time capped Canadian international back to the Pacific Northwest on a permanent deal this coming winter, but there is currently no guarantee that he would be anything more than a squad player in that scenario.
He is unlikely to see much playing time at Rangers either given he was barely used by Warburton over the first half of last term, having made just three substitute appearances in the Scottish Championship and one League Cup cameo before heading across the Atlantic to link up with Vancouver.
The utility man, whose contract at Ibrox runs until the summer of 2018, has yet to hold discussions with either club at this point, but he stresses that the chance to earn regular first-team football will be crucial to deciding where his future lies – whether that be in Scotland, North America or even elsewhere.
“I’ve not even made up my mind. I need to sit down with my agent,” Aird added to Goal USA. “I haven’t even spoke to Robbo. I need to do that now the season’s finished. Hopefully we can sit down and see what’s happening, but going forward, I don’t really know what’s happening yet. I can’t give you a definite answer because I don’t even know.
“I’ll speak to my agent, speak to both managers, and see what their plans are for the future. It’s easy talking about week in, week out, but you need to have a plan for the future. I want to play.”
Once a highly-rated prospect at Rangers, Aird certainly has the potential to be a useful player in either the Scottish Premiership or MLS, but with a place in the Canadian national team also up for grabs, he cannot afford to be restricted to a bit-part role going forward.
It certainly would not be a surprise to see him return to Vancouver permanently next season given the flashes of promise he showed last term, but whether that would be the best move for his career at this stage is up for debate.